Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Monday, October 01, 2007

OLPC project to sell XO laptop in the USA

In a "Give one Get one" offer, where you have to buy two, one for yourself, and one to donate, at a total cost of $400.

OLPC Give 1 Get 1 Program: XO-1 Laptop USA Sales!!!

You can get one in time for Xmas. But only the first 25,000 sold in the first two weeks will be guaranteed for delivery for the Holidays. They may run out of stock quickly.

The XO laptop was originally going to cost $100, but in order for the price to be brought down that low, they need to have orders for manufacturing large quantities. So why aren't they offering it for sale to American schools first, and schools in other developed nations? They already have the infrastructure to support the units, and they also have the MONEY to buy them.

Could OLPC Sell XO Laptops to US School Systems?

And there's no need to think only in terms of schools. If volume orders are needed to bring production costs down, then just sell it retail. The more units sold, the better.

Wayan Vota has some excellent ideas about how to sell the XO laptop in the USA; ideas that make sense and that could actually work well:

My OLPC Sales Plan Prediction for XO Laptops
[...] But what would be the best way for One Laptop Per Child to sell its "$100 laptops" to American parents that would also support the OLPC Mission?

  • eBay XO-1 sales wouldn't be practical at the scale of demand OLPC has generated. eBay is only a transaction site, it has no distribution system itself and would have to partner with FedEx or UPS to get laptops to buyers.
  • Dell Computers might seem a good partner, they have the distribution network and sell Linux laptops already, but Michael Dell isn't sold on the OLPC goals.
  • CompUSA is my choice. Not only does it have distribution capacity and could offer maintenance plans, its owner Carlos Slim, already bought 250,000 laptops for OLPC Mexico for use as eBooks in libraries.
No matter the distribution model, OLPC will be sure to gain from each XO sale. Mary Lou Jepsen already hinted at "two for one" XO sales this Christmas, but exactly how would that work? [...]

The OLPC project has a unique product, but they only have a limited window of time to get it produced and distributed, if they want it to really catch on. There are already competing products about to be offered, in a similar price range, although there is some speculation about how real these offerings really are. Will they really be offered so cheaply in mass quantities, or are they just a ploy to slow momentum of the OLPC project, which is threatening market share for traditional laptop manufacturers? Here's a look at what's been happening:

The Real Price of Intel's Classmate PC and Asus Eee PC

OLPC has been treating the program as an education program, not a laptop program. That has been holding back sales and production. They would probably be better off just selling the laptops first, letting people do what THEY want with them. OLPC can pursue their "constructionist" education agenda later, once the units are established in schools and in use world wide. The way they have been approaching it is like putting the cart before the horse, and it's getting them nowhere.

As it is, I don't know how many units they will sell with their current plan. I wouldn't buy one, presently. It will be interesting to see how many people do, and how well it's received.

Related Link:

10 Reasons Why Negroponte Should Change OLPC Distribution

Some good advice, that OLPC project would do well to heed.

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